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Tom's Foolery

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About Tom's Foolery

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  • Birthday 10/23/1968

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    Chagrin Falls, OH

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  1. Tom's Foolery

    Odin on Gin

    Interesting article. But, "Fact #1 Genever is not Gin" might not be true in all countries. In the USA, there is no requirement that gin be made from neutral spirits.
  2. Tom's Foolery

    Organic distilled spirits means exactly what?

    Hi guys (and gals). Use of the term "organic" is regulated. The rules are spelled-out in the CFR. To make the claim that you are "organic" or "distilled from organic," you need to be certified. Check it out at the USDA, which also has a link to the CFR for the rules regarding the use of the term "organic." https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic If you have not seen it yet, the TTB has an agreement with the USDA, and you need to follow the TTB rules on labeling and advertising if you want to make any "organic" claims. https://www.ttb.gov/alfd/alfd_organic.shtml We were organic certified but we gave-up the certification. With first-hand experience, I can tell you that the use of the term (and following the rules) does have meaning, but it's not what I had expected when we initially began the process. The negatives: What I found was that spirits distilled from organic materials were no better (and sometimes inferior) in taste, and always more expensive to produce. I had trouble sourcing the grains that I wanted to use. Most customers did not really care about the organic certification, and some even viewed it skeptically. And, I doubt that organic whiskey is any more healthy to consume than regular whiskey. The positives: the farmer who grows organic grains uses fewer nasty pesticides. The yield is lower, which does present other issues, but the farming techniques are generally better for the environment. So, buying or selling organic spirits is not BS, and should never be about misleading the customer. What it is about, IMHO, is choosing to buy products from a production chain that is more environmentally conscious (than conventional farming) because the original grains were farmed using non-GMO seeds and fewer harmful pesticides.
  3. Tom's Foolery

    Apple Brandy Cuts

    I have discussed chaptalizing with the TTB. They said that it was prohibited for apple brandy. The way that I read the sections of the CFR for the production of apple brandy, the text supports what the TTB told me over the telephone. Chaptalizaion is prohibited for apple brandy. Yes, chaptalization is permitted for apple wine, but that's under the section of the CFR for wine production. Maybe technically, if you have a winery, you could chaptalize your apple wine and then transfer it to a distillery. But you need a winery for that. If you chaptalize, then the product would be a DSS (distilled spirit specialty) and would require a commodity statement (spirits distilled from apple cider and cane sugar), and also an approved formula. We decided very early on not to chaptalize. Here are the reasons: 1. it hurt quality (yes, we tested it). 2. it hurt marketing (we promote that our product is entirely made from apples. no sugar added). 3. it was risky. We make an aged product. I don't want the TTB (or a competitor) coming around and telling me that my 6-years of apple brandy inventory can't be labeled apple brandy (because I chaptalized it). 4. If we chaptalized, and tried to keep it a secret, and the incorrectly labeled the product "apple brandy," we would be in violation of the CFR. And, if our "brandy" won a medal, and the truth were revealed, then I would have to give-up the medal for my incorrectly-labeled product. 5. the economics (of chaptalization) did not support the risk and hassle. Yes, adding sugar can save some money up front, but not that much. If you call the TTB today, you might get a different answer, since they can be inconsistent. However, I would not chaptalize even if an agent said that it "seemed okay" over the telephone. Or if I had a formula approved for it (an approved formula would not mean that it is apple brandy). There is a strong tradition for moonshiners to chaptalize, but that's a different story. To me, the answer was clear. If you want to make apple brandy in the USA, don't chaptalize.
  4. Tom's Foolery

    Fruit yield and cost

    The way I read the CFR, apple brandy needs to be made from whole apples, and not juice concentrate.
  5. Tom's Foolery

    Statements of Age for Whiskey

    When applying for a label, the applicant must agree that: "Under the penalties of perjury, I declare: that all the statements appearing on this application are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief; and, that the representations on the labels attached to this form, including supplemental documents, truly and correctly represent the content of the containers to which these labels will be applied. I also certify that I have read, understood and complied with the conditions and instructions which are attached to an original TTB F 5100.31. Certificate/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval." If the whiskey label has no age statement, then the bottler has, under penalties of perjury, declared to the TTB that the whiskey is over four years old.
  6. Tom's Foolery

    The Troubling Success of Tito's Vodka (Forbes)

    Is Tito buying corn and yeast, and making vodka out of it? If so, that seems like craft to me.
  7. Tom's Foolery

    Questions a Consumer Should Ask?

    Hi Cbnoit, Great questions. I am thrilled that you are taking the time and interest to research this topic and to inform your customers. They are lucky. I think I know what you are trying to get at with your question "Is it a blend of spirits, or distillate that was produced from a single mix of grains ("single distillate")" Here is how the ADI phrases a similar question to craft distillers submitting products to be judged, which I think gets to the point in a farily clear manner: "Was any part of this spirit distilled at another facility?" Tom
  8. Tom's Foolery

    Questions a Consumer Should Ask?

    This could make an interesting whiskey, but not a bourbon. According to the CFR, "Bourbon is Whisky produced .... from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn ..." What you described would be "BLENDED WHISKY OR WHISKY – A BLEND"
  9. Tom's Foolery

    Gin from mash

    The way I read it, the CFR allows for 3 types of gin, two of which require formulas because they are the result of changing a distilled spirit from one class/type to different class/type, and one which does not (from an original distillation of mash) because the gin was never a different class/type before becoming gin, even if botanicals are added after a first distillation (like a stripping run) but before a second distillation (like a finishing run) Check out: § 5.27 Formulas. Formulas are required for distilled spirits operations which change the character, composition, class or type of spirits as follows: (j)(1) Redistillation over juniper berries and other natural aromatics, or the extracted oils of such, of spirits distilled at or above 190 degrees of proof, free from impurities, including spirits of such a nature recovered by redistillation of imperfect gin spirits; and (k) The treatment of gin by— (1) Addition or abstraction of any substance or material other than pure water after redistillation in a manner that would change its class and type designation; So, if you are starting with Neutral Spirits (which is a class defined in the CFR), and redistilling it, you are making redistilled gin. If you are starting with Neutral Spirits and mixing it with botanicals, they you are making compounded gin. If you are starting with grain, and adding botanicals at any point before creating a distilled spirit that fits within a defined class/type, then you are making distilled gin and you don’t need a formula. But to confuse things, The CFR further states: § 5.22 © Class 3; gin: Gin produced exclusively by original distillation or by redistillation may be further designated as “distilled”. “Dry gin” (London dry gin), “Geneva gin” (Hollands gin), and “Old Tom gin” (Tom gin) are types of gin known under such designations. So, you can label redistilled gin as “distilled,” but it needs a formula. You cannot label a compounded gin as “distilled.” But, I am not a lawyer …
  10. Tom's Foolery

    Vodka in pot stills or column?

    Don is right, NGS diluted and run through a pot still does not need to be brought up to 190 proof a second time to be called "Vodka," as it was already vodka to start with. However, a reason some distillers run NGS through their still is so that they can legally claim that the product was "distilled by" their xyz-micro-distillery. But to make the claim that a vodka was "distilled by" xyz-micro-distillery, it needs to be brought above 190 in a still at xyz-micro-distillery. So, if somebody wants to run NGS through their still and sell it as vodka, and legally claim that they actually distilled the vodka at their distillery, then their still will need to bring it above 190 proof. If it does not go above 190 in a still at xyz-micro-distillery, then it is not vodka "distilled by" xyz-micro-distillery.
  11. Tom's Foolery

    Single Malt List

    As Nick posted back in September, there is no "single malt" category in the TTB standards of identity, unlike in Scotland, where the term "single" identifies that the whiskey was produced at one distillery. I wish that we did define "single" that way in the US, but unfortunately the terms "single", "pot distilled", and even "made by" will tell the consumer very little about what product is in the bottle and who actually distilled it. If a distiller wants to make it clear that his Malt Whiskey was produced at a single distillery, the term "bottled-in-bond" would convey that meaning, however bonded whiskey also must be 4+ yrs old and 100 proof, which is a long time to wait for a new distillery. If pressed, the TTB would probably not allow a distiller to even call a US product a "single malt," as that would suggest a category exists where one does not. A similar problem has occurred with "white whiskey," and some distillers have not been permitted to use that term on their label for this very reason. But as many of us know the TTB is swamped and a lot of mistakes get though the COLA process.
  12. Tom's Foolery

    Small Barrels Make Lousy Whiskey.

    Now add to the conversation the requirement that whiskey must "possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky" to be called a whiskey in the US. http://law.justia.com/cfr/title27/27-1.0.1.1.3.3.25.2.html
  13. Tom's Foolery

    Feds Finally Define Tennessee Whiskey, Sort Of.

    Does Jack Daniel's sour mash whiskey meet the definition of a straight bourbon? I assume that it does. The charcoal-mellowing process, by itself, would probably not disqualify JD as a straight bourbon. But a whiskey not labeled as a bourbon or a straight whiskey does have the option of adding harmless coloring and flavoring ingredients to the product. I assume that JD is not using these types of additives, or else the smart people at JD would be very cautious to avoid defining TN whiskey as a straight bourbon made in TN.
  14. Tom's Foolery

    Apple Jack

    If you are going for a traditional FC applejack, why add cane sugar? Seems to defeat the purpose entirely. Your project is interesting to me (I have yet to taste FC applejack). I say go for the real thing ... and make it from apples. Also, it is my experience that sugar will degrade quality. Assuming you are planning to operate as a legal distillery, you will want to check the CFR for the maximum amount of sugar that can be added if you decide to go that route anyway. There is a legal limit.
  15. Tom's Foolery

    Apple Jack

    Hey guys. The regional understandings of what applejack is are very interesting to me, and can tell us a lot about the history of the drink, so please share any other thoughts or experience on this topic. But if we are going to put the word "applejack" on a label, we better use the definition spelled out in the CFR in the standards of identity. There is one there for "Bourbon" too. I have not tried to make applejack from fractional crystallization but I would like to try it as an experiment. From what I have read, applejack produced by this method back-in-the-day was pretty low in proof (like 30 to 60), so it may be difficult to consistently get above 80 proof. I have not researched the legality of making applejack with fractional crystallization, so if anybody has spoken with the TTB on this topic, I would like to know what they had to say. Regarding the concentration of the existing negative components (fusel oils, phytotoxins, etc.), it seems logical that this would occur, just as the ethanol is concentrated when water is removed. What seems odd to me is that a "healthy" hard cider would somehow become unhealthy when water is removed. Did the freezing (or exposure to air) create additional fusel oils? Distillation would premit removal of some fusel oils (tails cuts), which would mean that distilled applejack would have fewer higher alcohols in it than FC applejack, but I would think the ratio of bad-congeners-to-ethanol in FC applejack to be the same as it is in hard cider. Any thoughts on this?
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